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“Our interiors, on the other hand, tend to dial up the level of decorative details, creating a very engaging visual environment. In this case, there are many more moldings than you’d expect to see. There’s layering as your eye moves up—paneling, beams on the ceiling—I like that there’s a little surprise inside.”
While the house is really just one-and-a-half stories high, “we exploited the full height of it inside,” says Harlan.
Within, everything is laid out according to use and hierarchy, he explains. The bedroom is as far away from the street as possible, on the side of the woods, so you can’t see inside from the street. There are levels of privacy, and separate sitting areas throughout. The great room is a study in colonial simplicity . . . but with every modern convenience (including a flat-screen TV hidden behind period cabinet doors). Clerestory windows are arranged near the vaulted ceiling to allow natural light into the space all day.
The kitchen is tidy, charming and practical, with a wood-topped island and countertops, commercial-grade appliances and Shaker-style cabinets. “They’re small things,” says Harlan, “but put them together and they increase the visual delight and practicality of the place.”
A bold apple-green palette prevails throughout, in the paneled walls, beams, window trim, cabinetry—and more than a few furnishings.
“We were thinking we’d go with a more subdued color—more tan-on-tan—but the client is comfortable with these shades, and in the end they worked out well,” says Veral. “We had to strike a balance since it is such a small space. We took the green from the paintings, and made it softer on the floor and in the fabrics.”
Contrasting pinkish reds provide punch, while patterns and texture liven things up. “They clearly love period furniture, so we used wood judiciously, in the farmhouse style,” says Veral. There’s a mix of antique pieces, reproductions, some things they brought from previous homes, and some bought new.
Encompassing a sitting area and dining nook, the enclosed porch (also known as the “morning room”) is located on the east side of the cottage, overlooking the main barn and the stone walls of the farmyard. It shares back-to-back fireplaces with the great room, affording a cozy warmth in the evenings or on wintry days.
The long and narrow bedroom is separated from its cheery dressing room/walk-in closet (with dozens of cubbies for easy storage), by a small bath.
The cottage may be new, but there are some vestiges of the past. The architect reused some of the original foundation, and cabinetry salvaged from the main house pantry was restored and reused to great effect in the laundry and mudroom.
The house’s overall mood—very much by design, says Veral—is one of comfort and ease. “The beauty of the cottage is its feeling of relaxation . . . we wanted it to be sweet and straightforward. As furnishings go, we weren’t looking for something permanent. It’s not that we didn’t choose fine pieces, but we knew it was going to be a guest cottage, so we weren’t looking for anything so precious that it would have to live with them forever.”
The Washburn jurors “got it.”
“The farmhouse metaphor was successfully rendered,” they wrote. “This is a distinctly Connecticut vernacular structure—complete with simplicity and modesty.”